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'Camelot' premiere: Four ways this ain't your grandma's Arthur

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Camelot
Jonathan Hession/Starz

Camelot
Jonathan Hession/Starz

The saga of King Arthur and his round furniture-loving knights has been done to death — so it’s no surprise that Starz’s new series, Camelot, changes a few key details in an attempt to inject new life into the story. While some of those tweaks are welcome (hello, Joseph Fiennes as a badass, baldheaded Merlin) others might end up rubbing Arthurites the wrong way. Here are the four main ways Camelot switches things up:

— The young Arthur himself is usually portrayed as a humble misfit — T.H. White nicknames the kid “Wart,” for Galahad’s sake. But the first time we see Camelot‘s Arthur, he’s completely naked, cheekily quoting the Bible as he macks on a bodacious blonde. Later, Arthur’s foster brother Kay exposits that Arthur is a “golden child” who’s always gotten his way. So even though Jamie Campbell Bower’s wide eyes and regrettable peach fuzz semi-stache radiate youth and inexperience, this once and future king is far from modest.

— And speaking of nudity: In the grand tradition of naked history lessons like The Tudors and Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Camelot puts the female form on display early and often. (The first time we see Guinevere, she, too, is both top- and bottom-less.) An extended sex scene between Morgan (Eva Green) and King Lot (James Purefoy), in which the scheming sorceress demands that the warlord pledge fealty to her and “say [her] name,” is particularly gratuitous.

— Magic figures prominently into the story of Camelot’s rise and fall. This series, though, is light on hocus-pocus. We get a few flashes of Merlin’s ability to see both the future and the past, and Morgan is clearly up to something dark and mystical, but nobody’s shouting “higitus figitus” or anything.

— You know the sword in the stone? Well, here, the weapon (called the Sword of Mars) isn’t just sticking out of some boring old boulder — it’s been jammed into a cliff at the top of a waterfall. This makes for a particularly dramatic extraction scene.

How did you like Camelot‘s premiere, PopWatchers? Do you buy Bower as Arthur 500.0? Did you think all the excess boobs added something to the story? And how do you feel about the way the series is handling magic — are you glad wizardry isn’t very prominent, or do you hope the sorcerers will eventually get to sorcer-ing?

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